Much has been written for the broken-hearted and from the perspective of the person dumped, left, and feeling abandoned. Little sympathy is given to the other party, the person who decided to end the relationship. Often when this person is even mentioned, many hurt dumpees will rage against the idea that their exes are suffering, hurting, or struggling in any way.
What is overlooked is that this ex is still a person with feelings; they are not all narcissistic psychopaths as much as people would like to believe that they are. If you are the person who ended the relationship, despite how your ex may react to you, you’re not the villain in this story. Your feelings and your pain are valid.
You’re allowed to change your mind about a relationship. Feelings change over time. Sometimes by our own doing, sometimes on their own. Or maybe your ex betrayed you and it was on you to end things; this can be a very confusing position to be in. Below is some guidance regarding how to move forward with your own healing.
Be Kind to Yourself
Again, you’re not a villain for having to be the person to call it quits. This is regardless of the reason for the end of the relationship, a situation that maybe could have been handled differently or better, or maybe it was handled the best it could possibly have been - it all feels terrible. This wasn’t easy and stick to your reasoning for why you felt this was the right thing to do because your feelings are going to be all over the place. You are going to have doubt that this was right decision; this is normal and part of the healing process.
You can not have your cake and eat it too.
I have seen numerous people end a relationship and then attempt to transition immediately into friendship without any time for healing. This is cruel for your ex who hasn’t had the time that you may have had to process ending things. You may be ready for a friendship, but they’re still in the relationship. If there was never any real break from one another then the relationship didn’t really end. Your ex will read your actions, not your words. If you still regularly see them, go to them for comfort, or to do activities, then they’re going to see you being in their lives as a chance that this could work out if only they give it time. Until you have both healed, you can’t genuinely be friends.
Commit to No Contact immediately
This is for yourself and for your ex. Continuing to have contact even if you see your ex as only a friend, is cruel to do them. You are giving them hope. Whether they say they’re fine with things or not, their feelings haven’t processed and resolved the loss just yet. You both need time to exit each other’s lives even if you eventually can return and be friends. Ask yourself, what are you getting out of continued contact with your ex? Comfort? Relief of guilt that you had to hurt them? How is it serving you? Is it only serving you?
Your grief looks different
The stages of grief for the dumper are completely opposite to the person dumped. You’re feeling relief out the gate, happy to be free of the relationship that may have brought you a great deal of anxiety when deciding to end it. You may want to be single and feel ready to date again. Just know that even if it is delayed, your grief will catch up with you when ending a romantic relationship. You will miss your ex, it just may not hit you for a while. It comes back in the form of them always being on your mind, your itch to reach out and wanting to be sure they’re doing okay. It looks like missing your ex even if you knew that ending the relationship was the right thing to do.
Take Care of Yourself
The basics that apply to someone dumped, apply to the dumper as well. Connect with people you feel safe with, wallow if you need to, eat and sleep regularly. Get exercise or at least movement in your day. Do things that make you feel like you again. Stay single for a while. Allow yourself to feel your feelings; cry, be angry, vent it in a journal or to a friend. Do your best not to drink since alcohol is a depressant and if you’re already feeling down, it won’t necessarily help your mood. Take care of yourself, the guilt and grief will be heavy weights, but they don’t define who you are as a person.